Employment Tips For Individuals With Special Needs and Disabilities

IMG_1344Whether you are an individual living with a disability or special need, or if you are a parent/caregiver of a special needs child, you have probably thought about what opportunities are available for young adults with disabilities after high school.  Many individuals, parents, and caregivers may not know what is next when it comes to planning for adulthood, however, one option, is to develop skills that can be used in the community that can be applied to a job.

Job Planning: Start As Early As Possible

Planning for a job once reaching adulthood can never begin too early.  Learning communication and social skills are imperative to start at a young age, as those skills will be used every day once out in the workforce.  It is also critical to learn how to be independent and complete tasks on your own.  To begin, simple tasks such as making the bed are a good place to start.  From there, you can gradually learn/teach bigger tasks such as, taking out the trash, cleaning the dishes, doing the laundry, etc.  The key is to work these tasks into a daily routine, so that once adulthood is reached, it is part of the daily routine.  Any area where you can build independence is a win!

Learn About Services Offered Within Your Community, County, and State

Many communities offer financial support for individuals with disabilities who are looking for jobs.  Therefore it is important that you do your research and see what is out there.  If your town does not have specific resources available, it is likely that your county does.  Contact your local county office and see what options they have available.  For help in finding resources for your location, check out our previous blog post Four Ways To Find Resources For Your Loved One Living With A Disability in New Jersey.  You may also find information here about the 18 Disability Services county offices in New Jersey.

Parents/Caregivers: You Must Learn About Your Child’s Interests

When your child reaches adulthood, they might want to volunteer, get a part-time, or even a full-time job.  To find the right fit, it is imperative to begin learning as much as you can about your child’s interests by getting out and exploring together.

It is recommended that you have your child join clubs at school, as they provide many different avenues for them to find something that they truly enjoy doing that may be pursued out in the real world.  Volunteering can also help them find something they enjoy.  Places like hospitals, animal shelters, senior centers, and other organizations are always open to having volunteers.  Easter Seals New Jersey also offers volunteer opportunities which can be checked out here.

All of these routes can help your child find something they truly enjoy, so once adulthood is reached, they can choose to pursue something they are passionate about, and that they can succeed at once in the workforce.

Supported Employment

There is also always the option to enroll in a supported employment program.  Supported employment is a system of support for individuals living with disabilities and special needs, where they can receive assistance such as job coaching, job development, skill building, job retention, and much more.  The concept of supported employment is to allow individuals with disabilities the option to become active, wage-earning members of the workforce, in the hopes that they will one day get a job out in the real world once they perfect their skills.

For Adults Living With A Disability or Special Need: Looking For A Job

If you are an adult living with a special need or disability, getting started with your job search may seem like an impossible task.  Job searching is never an easy feat, especially when it comes to finding a job that you may even like.

To ensure you are noticed in the crowd, make sure your resume1 is strong.  Even if you do not have much work experience, be sure to include tasks you know you are good and can excel at.  Also be sure to list any organizations that you may belong to.  Employers always like to see a candidate who has commitments and can be a part of an organization.  Ensure your resume is formatted correctly.  A simple google search can help you with that.


Whatever path you and your child decide to take, paying jobs are considered to be the first and best option for many young adults with special needs.  Finding a job, and earning a paycheck can be one of the most satisfying feelings for individuals living with a disabilities or special needs.  Working in the community and being a part of society is about building self-esteem and improving the quality of life.  It can open up your child’s world in a lot of ways.

Easter Seals New Jersey’s Supported Employment Program

IMG_9619Easter Seals New Jersey has two locations that offer supported employment where individuals can earn a paycheck, as well as learning new skills that can be applied to the real world.  We offer a wide variety of jobs that require different levels of ability, so there is a job for everyone.  Easter Seals New Jersey also provides employment placement opportunities to help individuals work at a job of their choice.  For more information on our workforce development program, visit our workforce development website by clicking here.


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5 thoughts on “Employment Tips For Individuals With Special Needs and Disabilities”

  1. My son has aspergers and it is a huge struggle for him to live a normal life. However, we stressed to him the importance of being independent and got him into vocational training. After completing that, he was able to get a job and is now much more independent than he was before. He is also so much happier as well. He works only 30 hours a week but his bosses would like him to go to full-time. How do I know if my child is ready for that type of working responsibility?

    • Hi Raylin, thank you for your question.

      That is excellent that your son is more independent than he was before and that his bosses would like him to go full-time.

      To answer your question, our belief is that if a person desires to work, they can achieve that goal with the proper supports in place. There is an array of services available to assist people prepare for, secure, and retain employment including a program called Supported Employment. Supported Employment assists people with disabilities by providing individualized supports that enable them to choose the kind of job they want and to become successful members of the workforce. Accessing supported employment services may vary by state, but the typical path is either through county Developmental Disabilities programs or through federally-funded Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies (possibly referred to as VR, DVR, or DRS in your state). Some states have separate Vocational Rehabilitation agencies for persons who are blind. I’ve included a link that lists all the VR agencies in the country. I hope this helps! http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/WorkingatFDA/UCM277757.pdf

      Hope that helps!

  2. Thanks for discussing the ways to help support disabled family members and friends in finding adequate employment. Unfortunately it seems like this topic isn’t addressed as much as it should be. Thanks for discussing the option of enrolling in a supported employment program. I haven’t ever heard of this option before. I’ll be sure to pass it on to my disabled friends just in case they ever need the program in the future.

  3. I really like how you said that, ” Job searching is never an easy feat, especially when it comes to finding a job that you may even like.” I agree that most companies work with disabilities people that need special job care. I have been going deaf over the years and it’s starting to get really bad where my hearing aids are not working. Thanks for sharing these great tips about finding a job with disability needs.


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